OPINION: The power of One

Ellen T. Tordesillas

Posted at Oct 24 2018 09:58 PM

It took only one man to restore the fading faith of democracy-loving Filipinos in the country’s justice system.

It took only one man: Presiding Judge Andres Bartolome Soriano of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Capital Region, Branch 148. 

And all Judge Soriano did was do what he believed was right.

Judge Soriano’s principled stand is contained the 33-page decision he handed down in the Motion of the Department of Justice to issue a hold departure order and warrant of arrest against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV in connection with the coup d’etat case which he dismissed in 2011.

It will be recalled that President Duterte issued Proclamation 572 on Aug. 31, 2018 declaring void ab initio the amnesty granted to Trillanes in 2010 because “there is no copy available copy of his application for amnesty in the records” and that the former Navy Officer allegedly did not admit to the charge of coup d’etat for what they did on July 27, 2003 in Oakwood Hotel and in Manila Peninsula on Nov. 29, 2007 when Trillanes and some 300 young officers and soldiers took a stand against the corruption in government and election cheating of Gloria Arroyo.

Proclamation 572 ordered “ the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police to employ all lawful means to apprehend former LTSG Antonio Trillanes so he can be recommitted to the detention facility where he had been incarcerated for him to stand trial for the crimes he is charged with.”

Last month, Judge Elmo Alameda of RTC Branch 150 followed Malacanang’s line, disregarded his Sept. 2011 dismissal of the rebellion case against Trillanes and ordered the arrest of the senator.

Rebellion is bailable. The senator, who is Duterte’s critic, is free on a P200,000 bail he posted.

The coup d’etat case in RTC Branch 148 was not bailable. Had Soriano done an Alameda, Trillanes would be imprisoned for life, as desired by Pres. Duterte and former President Gloria Arroyo.

But while others have succumbed to pressures, Soriano stood firm.

Based on the testimony of the witnesses, Soriano said. “The fact that no records of the application exists in the files of the Secretariat and/or the Ad Hoc Committee or the other offices of the DND does not itself mean that no application was filed.”

He noted that the prosecution witness, who certified on the unavailability of Trillanes’ amnesty application records, testified that she did not mean Trillanes did not file an amnesty application.

Soriano’s Postscript was justice explained in clear, precise terms: 

“The records show that this case has long been dismissed as per the Court’s Order dated Sept. 21, 2011, by virtue of Proclamation No. 75 and the accused availment thereof. The dismissal, it appears, has become final and executory.

“Well established is the doctrine that a final and executory judgment shall be immutable. The Court, in fact, loses jurisdiction over the case when its decision has become final and executory.

“Nevertheless, the Court based on the resolution of the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 24194, went on to review the legality and resolve factual issues surrounding Proclamation No. 572.

“Given its findings, both on the legality of Proclamation No. 572, and its factual bases, the Court finds no reason to disturb the doctrine of immutability of a final and executor judgment.

“Meanwhile the law is vibrant. Jurisprudence is its lifeblood. Subsequent jurisprudence may force new horizons in which exceptions to the immutability of a final and executory judgment may be born.

“For now, the Court finds itself powerless to disturb the said doctrine even it has sustained the factual bases for the issuance of the Proclamation No. 472.

“Wherefore, premises considered the prosecution’s Very Urgent Ex-parte Omnibus Motion for the Issuance of Hold Departure Order and Alias Warrant of Arrest against accused Antonio F. Trillanes IV is DENIED DUE COURSE.”

Judge Soriano showed the power of one principled stand.

Just imagine what it would be multiplied by ten, twenty, one hundred, thousands and more. Would it not be amazing?

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